Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas: Leaders have vision, drive, commitment and skill

February 18, 2014
Command Sgt. Maj. Luther Thomas, Jr. was the speaker for the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy graduation ceremony.
Command Sgt. Maj. Luther Thomas, Jr. congratulates Command Sgt. Maj. Shawn F. Carns, a member of the Nonresident Sergeants Major Course Class 4-14, while he hands him his certificate of completion during the graduation ceremony held Feb. 18 at the Fort Bliss Centennial Club. Thomas was the guest speaker for the event which culminates more than 2 years of distance and a two-week resident course that mirrors the curriculum taught in the 10-month resident course.​
 
FORT BLISS, Texas — The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy held a graduation ceremony for the 57 students of Sergeants Major Nonresident Course Class 4-14 at the Centennial Club on Fort Bliss, Texas.
 
After opening ceremonies Command Sgt. Maj. Luther Thomas Jr., 12th command sergeant major of the Army Reserve, thanked everyone for attending and inviting him to be the guest speaker for the graduation. He then gave a speech to the graduates promising to keep it short and to the point, noting his own experience listening to speeches and saying he could not remember any of what was said.
 
“First I want to congratulate you for completing this difficult, yet important milestone in your military career. You have now reached the top rung of the ladder we call the Noncommissioned Officer Education System,” he said. “From having sat in the same seat as you, I realize that the only thing in the way of you departing back to your home unit, your Soldiers and your families is me. So I will attempt to use my time wisely.”
 
Thomas, using his own experiences, said he wanted to leave the graduates with one thought – that “We must be leaders.”
 
“A leader is a person who has vision, a drive and a commitment to achieve that vision, and the skill to make it happen. In the Army, a leader is a professional who is competent, demonstrates character, and displays unquestionable commitment to the mission despite any risk, challenge or adversity,” he said. “Sgt. Maj. of the Army Richard Kidd once said, ‘People value honesty. They value integrity, They value competence and courage and all those kinds of things.’ As Soldiers we know this to be true.”
 
Command Sgt. Maj. Luther Thomas, Jr., 12th command sergeant major of the Army Reserve, receives a certificate of appreciation and plaque from Sgt. Maj. Chad B. Henry, a member of the Nonresident Sergeants Major Course Class 4-14 during the graduation ceremony held Feb. 18 at the Fort Bliss Centennial Club. Thomas was the guest speaker for the event which culminates more than 2 years of distance and a two-week resident course that mirrors the curriculum taught in the 10-month resident course. ​
 
Thomas challenged the graduates to be the leader that takes responsibility when things go wrong instead of “throwing the Soldier under the bus.” He added it is the true leader that accepts responsibility not only for their actions, but for the actions of the team.
 
Leaders authentically care about their Soldiers. You can’t fake this. Soldiers have a very strong ability to tell the difference between leaders who are authentic, and leaders who are putting on an act,” Thomas said. “Leadership is also not management. Mangers manage things, leaders lead people.”
 
Thomas ended his remarks telling the graduates to embrace change, move smartly with the times and lead a culture of change.
 
“It is important that you establish and truly understand the core of what you are about and remain true to that core through both good and bad times,” he said. “For me, this is the first rule: remember why you’re here, ensure everything you do helps you and your team achieve its strategy and purpose. This is true leadership.”
 
The Sergeants Major Nonresident Course (SMNRC) is a two phased self-paced program of instruction which leverages distributive learning (dL) in the first phase and students have two years to complete it. The second phase culminates with two weeks of resident instruction which students have up to one year to complete at the academy. The SMNRC mirrors the resident curriculum but in a distributive learning method of instruction.
 
A complete set of photos from this graduation can be viewed at https://usasma.bliss.army.mil/. Just click on Photo Archives at the bottom of the page and then locate the folder NRC Class 4-14 Graduation.
 
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